Usually when you hold a team as good as Alabama to 28% from the field, you have an expectation of coming away with a victory. Unfortunately, 32% from the field is not exactly the kind of number to whoop it up about either.
Clearly, the Bucks are going to suffer dearly for being short 2 players in their full rotation. The burden of minutes placed on 3 players in particular, Zach Williams, Brent Darby, and Sean Connolly, is going to be something to watch. Williams (14 points and 10 rebounds) and Connolly (13 points, 4 boards, 3 assists) seemed to respond well on this evening. Darby (0-8 from the field, 7 points, 5 turnovers) did not.
Overall, even the most pessimistic of OSU fans could see some good coming out of this tilt. The kind of things that have you extremely hopeful when the Buckeyes are back to full strength.
THE GOOD: Part of this is the coaching staff's scheme, but the defensive execution against an athletic Tide squad was excellent. Reigning SEC player of the year Erwin Dudley was played even by Zach Williams (Dudley registered 8 points on 3-12 shooting to go with 11 boards) and star point man Maurice Williams was equally atrocious from the field (3-15). Darby's strongman techniques gave Williams fits and the Tide was forced to turn to secondary players (Pettway and Walker) to keep the Bucks at bay.
THE BAD: Offensively, OSU looked extremely fractured at times. Clearly having Darby start the offense instead of hunting his shot off of the lead guard is causing serious issues. Matt Sylvester still looked several games away from making a solid contribution as he was often overpowered by the Tide wingmen. Many times, the offense seemed to boil down to Darby's penetration and freelancing from there. Neither center established themselves offensively either.
THE GOOD: Zach Williams, while not shooting for a high percentage, and perhaps looking to step up his offensive production with Darby having such an awful night., played more like the solid citizen OSU fans are used to. Besides the double-double, Williams also did not turn the ball over in 40 minutes of play. Hard to do at any level or position.
THE BAD: Missed layups were getting contagious. Velimir Radinovic and Darby were the most frequent offenders, but the Buckeyes need to finish at the rim against a team as talented as Alabama. Final score is evidence of that of course
THE GOOD: Everyone talks about "dictating tempo" as if its an easy thing to do. Clearly the Buckeyes dictated tempo Friday night. The game was played at a full-shot clock pace with a score reminiscent of the pre-shot clock era. With 7 capable bodies, that's about all that was possible. But the Tide played right into it with their horrific shooting, and their bizarre insistence on hoisting long 3's. (Maurice Williams was equally awful from long range 1-8). No way could the Bucks have withstood a fullcourt game, so they turn it into a game they can win. Well done.
THE BAD: Darby at lead guard is also costing the backcourt looks at the deep ball. OSU attempted an uncharacteristic 6 from deep, nailing only 2 (one a bankshot). Hopefully this problem gets solved with the return of Brandon Fuss-Cheatham.
THE GOOD: Overall, though its disappointing to lose, the team did not fold at the sight of the mighty Tide as many thought they would. Down 3 with the ball with 1 minute to go in the game is not a bad position against the #4 team in the nation. If anything, this shows the Bucks that they have the braintrust AND the execution to hang with anyone in the nation—and will give them added confidence when they have a full allotment of players.
BIZARRE STAT OF THE NIGHT--- Brent Darby leads the way with 2 blocked shots. (???!!)